Businessmen can cut cost of street upgrade

Businessmen can cut cost of street upgrade

5 December 2018

WORK on an environmental improvement scheme at Irish Street in Downpatrick should not cost as much as originally planned, according to a local politician.

The so-called public realm project — which gets underway in the New Year —  is expected to cost in the region of £700,000.

However, Downpatrick councillor Cadogan Enright has revealed that an initiative led by a local businessman can save ratepayers money.

The project to provide new granite footpaths, lighting and street furniture is being funded by the Department for Communities and Newry, Mourne and Down Council, with Cllr Enright explaining the overall cost can be reduced by using street lights and furniture already in place in Irish Street.

He said the suggestion came up during a recent meeting to discuss the scheme attended by businessmen Gary Laverty and Colman Magennis.

“I am indebted to Gary whose research indicated that period-style street lights and heritage seating already in place in Irish Street, and similar to that used in nearby English Street, could be used as part of the public realm scheme at no additional expense,” he remarked. 

“Based on Gary’s experience in this field, we were able to demonstrate that by refurbishing the original bollards we could save money and continue the impact of the English Street conservation area all the way up Irish Street.

Mr Laverty said that since the recent meeting, he had also discovered that many of the existing metal lamp poles could be reused and simply needed a more appropriate heritage-style lantern mounting piece. 

He added: “This should save more money and Cllr Enright and I will be pursuing this further.”

Mr Magennis said saving money on the Irish Street scheme represented an “excellent result” for ratepayers and congratulate Cllr Enright and Mr Laverty.

He added: “Not only have we saved money, but will be significantly improving the streetscape and making it more in keeping with the ambiance of older and more historical areas of the town. Had these two men not spoken up, a higher cost and lower quality result would have been nodded though by the council in my opinion.”

The Department of Communities has agreed to make a £543,000 contribution to the environmental improvement scheme, with the local authority providing the remainder of the cash for the eagerly-awaited revamp currently valued at £700,000.

The heritage value of the Irish Street area is something council officials are not only keen to preserve, but build upon as they work with the government department to maximise the potential of this part of the town.

The government department said funding for the streetscape scheme will build on the “significant public realm investment” already made by the government department in Downpatrick over recent years.